Oleksandr Usyk earned a convincing unanimous decision victory over Anthony Joshua to win the unified world heavyweight championship – and he claims he had to stop himself from trying to knock out the Brit
Newly-crowned world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk admits his corner told him to stop going for a knockout victory over Anthony Joshua midway through the fight.
Usyk overwhelmed Joshua to add win the IBF, WBA and WBO belts via a convincing unanimous decision at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night.
The Ukrainian dominated the final rounds and appeared close to finishing the fight, especially at the end of the 12th when AJ was pinned to the ropes.
But Usyk insists it was never in his game plan to try and send the Brit sprawling to the canvas for fear of losing his own “rhythm”.
“I had no objective to knock him out because my trainer, in my corner, pushed me not to do that,” said the 34-year-old shortly after the official decision was announced.
“In the beginning I hit him hard and tried to knock him out. But then my trainer said: ‘Just stop, and do your job’.”
Usyk confessed his discipline did slip at moments during the fight when he “tried a few times” to knock out his 31-year-old adversary.
He added: “I punched him a couple of times but I lost my rhythm. My trainer said I was trying too hard to knock him out.”
These minor lapses in concentration may be the reason Usyk declared he “can be much better” as he looks to defend his new titles.
“This means a lot to me,” said Usyk. “The fight went exactly the way I expected it to go. There were a couple of moments where Anthony pushed me hard. But nothing special.”
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Usyk drew lavish praise from his legendary compatriots after advancing his professional record to 19 wins without loss, including victories over Joshua, Derek Chisora and Tony Bellew on British soil.
“Excellent fight. Very clever. Oleksandr did a perfect job,” said former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, who was ringside for the bout.
Vasiliy Lomachenko – who like Usyk won Olympic gold at London 2012 – said: “It was a great performance and a historic fight. Now, he is in history.”
Joshua, meanwhile, has confirmed he will activate a rematch clause to face Usyk for a second time.
“I couldn’t see in the ninth round, couldn’t see anything really because my eye was shut,” he said in his post-fight press conference.
“It was a good experience because in adversity you’ve just got to learn to control yourself, stay on top of things, so when I couldn’t see anything – it’s the first time that it’s happened in a fight.”